The Victim (2012)




99 percent of the time when I sit down and fire up the old movie watching machine I have no predisposition on whether I am going to like a film or not. Sure, like all folks I have certain expectations based on certain people being involved, but ultimately how I feel and what I write about comes solely from whether I was entertained by a film or not. I mention this because this is one of the very few times that going in I really wanted this film to be great. I wanted to come out of it glowing and gushing with praise. Why, you ask? From where does this desire to see a film succeed so much that you are willing to throw what little shred of journalistic decency and integrity out the window? It's simple, one word "Barley."

See, what seems like ages ago now, before Mathew Fox crash landed on an island, he was just an older brother trying to hold his family together after the sudden deaths of his parents. 'Party Of Five' introduced us to Charlie, Julia, Scott Wolf and Lacey Chabert, and for 8 glorious episodes Jennifer Blanc. Jennifer played Kate Bishop who dated Scott Wolfs character Bailey for all too short of a time, calling him "Barley" and making teenage Mister Joshuas heart melt in the process. Years passed, I remember seeing her in some Lifetime movie with Brenda from '90210', then like magic Jennifer Blanc disappeared. (Side Bar : I know she didn't disappear. I know she was on 'Dark Angel' and was in many other projects.) Meanwhile, Mister Joshua grows up, develops a sick obsession with horror films and starts writing about them. Then she followed Dread World on Twitter (like you should do) and 18 year old Mister Joshuas heart skipped a beat.

Jennifer, now Blanc-Biehn after marrying Michael Biehn, (and really who wouldn't marry Michael Biehn, mother fucker is Reese from 'Terminator'), and her husband released a little indy feature, 'The Victim' earlier this year and thought it might be a good idea if some folks checked it out. So like a good little lemming, here I am.

Billed as a throwback to the "Grindhouse" days of  70's exploitation cinema, 'The Victim' marks Biehns solo directorial debut. Made for about 700,000 dollars in 11 days, and starring not only Biehn and Blanc, but genre fave Danielle Harris as well, 'The Victim' certainly has the pedigree (and low down and dirty budget and shooting schedules) to make it an instant classic. Unfortunately, despite some good intentions, there is more wrong than right with 'The Victim' and you have no idea how hard it was to type that sentence.

Harris and Blanc-Biehn (herein just Blanc, because I'm nothing if not lazy) are two strippers out for a good time with two cops, one of whom is "dating" Harris, both who have some killer 70's pornstar facial hair. Blanc comes along strictly for the cocaine, which seems like as good a reason as any. Harris winds up with her neck broken while getting fucked from behind. Yup, I just typed that. So here you go guys, Danielle Harris taking it from behind...3 minutes into the film. No, there is no nudity - that's what your imagination is for. At least that's what my wife would say to me. Fearing for her own life, Blanc takes off through the woods, only to run into an isolated cabin inhabited by Biehn (playing a character named Kyle here like in 'Terminator' wink, wink). Kyle doesn't want to help her, but after a visit from the porno cops and a roll in the hay with Blanc (including copious boobage - thank you lord), he's convinced. Fights happen, flashbacks fill in some of the story, odd musical cues are used and then the film ends.

The odd thing about 'The Victim' is that is had it's heart firmly in the right place. Unfortunately the cool parts involved don't add up to a worth while whole. Biehns directing is good, and very good at times. He certainly has the skills to keep at it. The three leads Biehn, Blanc, and Harris are all fine in their rolls. The biggest problem plaguing 'The Victim' is the script. It's muddled, confusing and frankly boring. The non-linear story telling, while ambitious, just really doesn't work. The other thing that really hurts the film is the editing. I know that it's supposed to have that 70s 'Grindhouse' vibe but some of the cuts just felt wrong. I am the first to admit I'm not expert when it comes to editing, so when I notice it, something's definitely not right. Some scenes just seem to hang on, and on, and on (driving away from and back to the cabin for instance). It's sad because all the elements are there, even down to the twist ending (which can be seen a mile away, but because Biehn is so good at what he does, it still works). Perhaps some extra $$$ could have given Biehn a little bit more time to realize his vision, but given the limitations it falls a bit short.

I desperately wanted to love this film. That being said it's not terrible, it's just not he homerun I wanted it to be. If you are a "Grindhouse" connoisseur or completest , you will want to check this out. If that's not your bag, skip it. 

**1/2 out of  *****


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